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Newspapers take another hit

In bad news for newspaper and magazine publishers, advertising revenue recorded its fifth month of negative growth in 2012.

According to media buyer, Standard Media Index (SMI), advertising revenue fell 0.3% in December compared to the previous year. That fall comes on top of a 7% drop in October and a 2% rise in November, indicating the volatility of the ad market. The data is based on the 60% of ad market that SMI captures.

Related: Fairfax to sell radio assets?

Over the 2012 calendar year, the total ad market was down 1%. On the brighter side, digital advertising rose 36% over the previous year, while cinema and outdoor advertising rose 10.8% and 2.1%, in December respectively.

Newspapers and magazines recording 17% and 15% falls respectively, reflecting the structural shift of ad dollars from traditional media to online. For publishers like Fairfax Media (ASX: FXJ) and News Corporation (ASX: NWS) this represents further evidence of the need to move their traditional business online. Fairfax management have even admitted that the company is likely to be digital only sometime in the future.

Radio advertising was hardly changed, posting a 0.1% fall for the month, while free-to-air (FTA) TV advertising dropped 3.3% in December. The Nine Network dominates with a 42.5% metropolitan ad share. Seven Network – owned by Seven West Media (ASX: SWM), came in second with a 35.7% share, while struggling Ten Network Holdings (ASX: TEN) lost 4% to its rivals, falling to a 21.6% market share.

Even FTA is struggling against the structural changes in the ad market. SMI report that pay TV increased its ad revenue by 9.5% in 2012, to $386 million, suggesting consumers are leaving FTA networks, despite the additional of digital channels, and signing up for pay TV – good news for Foxtel owners, Telstra Corp (ASX: TLS) and News Corp.

Foolish takeaway

Fairfax Media boss, Greg Hywood stated last year that he saw no upturn in the ad market until 2015. Results so far suggest he may be on the money.

Our “Top Stock for 2012-13” is already on the move, yet we think the stock still has an exciting future ahead. Get the name, ASX stock symbol, and full research case for this remarkable software company FREE! Click here for this brand-new special report.

More reading

Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in Fairfax. The Motley Fool’s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Take Stock is The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. Click here now to request your free subscription, whilst it’s still available. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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